Ever been to an art gallery and wondered who oversees its basic day-to-day functions? This is precisely the job of a gallery director. They ensure that a gallery is running smoothly and efficiently and that visitors are thoroughly enjoying the gallery experience. In order to become a gallery director, one must usually have a master's degree in an art-related field.
Gallery directors are responsible for organizing and overseeing functions within the institution for which they work. They may manage staff and gallery operations, handle budgetary tasks, and arrange preparations for exhibits. A master's degree in an art-related field is typically required for this position, although certain galleries accept candidates with a bachelor's degree or considerable experience in the art field.
|Required Education||Master's degree in an art-related field; some jobs may only require a bachelor's|
|Other Recommendations||Completion of coursework in business, public relations, or marketing|
|Projected Job Growth (2019-2029)*||13% for curators|
|Median Salary (2020)*||$56,990 for curators|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Career Information for Gallery Directors
Gallery directors may work in independently standing spaces or those connected to larger institutions, such as universities. Duties of gallery directors often converge with those of curators. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the field is highly competitive since the number of aspirants typically outnumbers available positions; however, jobs for curators are expected to grow 13% between 2019 and 2029, which is much faster than the average.
Specifics of a position's responsibilities vary depending on the type of institution for which one works. However, according to job postings listed in October 2011 on the American Association of Museums website (www.aam-us.org) and Monster.com, some responsibilities of gallery directors might include managing staff and gallery operations, developing a budget, overseeing the installation and dismantling of exhibits, programming exhibits and maintaining permanent collections.
Monster.com job postings also indicate that generating sales is usually a priority for directors of privately owned galleries. Duties for gallery directors employed by a college or university may also include course instruction, according to the Southeastern College Art Conference (www.secollegeart.org).
PayScale.com listed the range of yearly income for art gallery curators as $31,000-$69,000 as of February 2020, with the annual median resting at $46,339. The BLS reported that the median annual wage for curators in general was $56,990 in May 2020.
Education Requirements for Gallery Directors
A master's degree in an art-related field is generally the minimum requirement for a gallery director or curator, although directly related work experience might be considered in lieu of academic requirements. Some privately run galleries might require only a bachelor's degree, per previously referenced Monster.com job postings. Relevant degrees include art history, museum studies and arts administration as well as studio art. It is recommended by the BLS that aspiring curators also take some business classes to supplement their arts curriculum, as well as coursework in marketing or public relations, due to the managerial aspects of the job.
Gallery directors need excellent organizational, planning and management skills. Depending on the gallery, they'll also need a bachelor's or master's degree in an art-related field, and it helps to have business training of some kind.